Vrai, Peter, and Caitlin look back at the 2021 Winter season, from egg time to horse girls!
Content Warning: This episode includes graphic discussion of sexual assault
Date Recorded: April 10th, 2021
Hosts: Vrai, Peter, and Caitlin
0:01:56 Wave!! Let’s Go Surfing
0:04:21 Sk8 the Infinity
0:16:20 Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki-kun
0:21:23 So I’m a Spider, So What?
0:23:17 Skate-Leading Stars
0:25:56 Back Arrow
0:27:17 Kemono Jihen
CW: Rape 0:30:01-0:33:28
0:34:01 Heaven’s Design Team
0:34:31 Cells at Work! CODE BLACK
0:37:19 2.43 Seiin High School Volleyball
0:38:00 Wonder Egg Priority
0:45:59 Otherside Picnic
Sequels and Carryovers
0:47:35 Umamusume Season 2
0:50:02 Re:ZERO Season 2
0:51:57 The Promised Neverland Season 2
0:52:45 JUJUTSU KAISEN
0:53:13 That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2
0:54:29 LAID-BACK CAMP SEASON2
0:55:59 With a Dog and a Cat, Every Day is Fun
VRAI: Hello and welcome to Chatty AF, the Anime Feminist podcast, and our winter 2021 season wrap-up. My name is Vrai. I’m a content editor and contributor at Anime Feminist. You can find my freelance work posted on my Twitter @WriterVrai, or you can find the podcast about trash media that I cohost on Twitter @trashpod. And with me today are Peter and Caitlin.
PETER: Hi, I’m Peter. I’m an associate manager of social video at Crunchyroll, editor at Anime Feminist, and my Twitter is @PeterFobian.
CAITLIN: Hi, I’m Caitlin. I am the technical editor for Anime Feminist. I’m a reviewer for Anime News Network. Obligatory mention of my poor neglected personal blog, I Have a Heroine Problem. And you can find me on Twitter @alltsun_nodere, where I yell a lot.
VRAI: Mostly about back muscles.
CAITLIN: Well… And about people thinking that it’s not political in Gundam to say you shouldn’t bomb your neighbors.
VRAI: [wearily] Oh my God. [Reverts to normal voice] The One-Punch Man image is ever relevant.
VRAI: This wrap-up is going to be a little bit odd because we recorded the midseason a little bit later than we normally do, so a lot of shows were around episode 7 or 8, and because there are a lot of sequels and two-cours going on this time around. So we’re gonna blaze through the lower part of our premiere digest.
As always, we start from the bottom of the premiere digest and work our way up. But Caitlin, you wanted to take a moment to talk about that really unfortunate surfing anime.
CAITLIN: Yes. Well, I mean, it’s at the bottom, so, you know… Yeah, so Wave!! Let’s Go Surfing… it had a mobile game come out a little over a month ago, at the beginning of March. After three days, it turned out to be unplayably buggy, just completely unusable, so they took it down after three days and they said, “All right, we’re gonna do some maintenance on it.” And then a few days later they said, “We are still doing maintenance.”
And then at the end of the month, at the beginning of April, they were like, “Yeah, we’re just killing this,” because they thought that they could make whatever generic, boring crap with shirtless boys and throw it at women and the women would be like, “Oh, yes! Ho-ho-ho!” So, they put no effort in. The anime flopped. Someone told me that the first Blu-ray sold under 200 copies.
VRAI: Damn, that’s Samurai Flamenco numbers.
CAITLIN: That is… Oh man. I can’t imagine the Crunchyroll numbers were any better.
CAITLIN: And so, it was a complete failure. So, if you’re going to try to plan a massive multimedia project, don’t assume that women are idiots that are gonna spend a whole bunch of money just because there are some shirtless boys in it.
VRAI: Put some effort into those shirtless boys.
CAITLIN: That’s goddamn right!
VRAI: You know what, you can say a lot of things about Hypnosis Mic. You can’t say they did not try.
CAITLIN: No. No, they tried a lot. There’s a lot of trying.
VRAI: [crosstalk] They tried so much.
PETER: You know, if it’s gonna bomb, though, at least it mercifully bombed quickly rather than something like Anthem, where it took it like a year and a half to finally reach the conclusion that everybody knew it was going to hit before it was released.
CAITLIN: I’ve never heard of this thing.
VRAI: Yeah… Yeah, they bilked a lot of money out of a lot of people.
CAITLIN: Yeah, and they’re refunding all the money people spent on it.
PETER: Oh, wow, okay.
CAITLIN: But they were planning a manga, character goods… They had a whole plan set for this big multimedia blitz, and then everyone just looked and went “Nah.”
VRAI: Well, let’s talk about a successful anime about hot boys, then, which is Sk8 the Infinity.
CAITLIN: Oh! So good.
VRAI: I actually did start watching Sk8, but I only made it like four episodes in before the crash of new season happened. I did enjoy what I watched. But how did things wrap up with the whole Adam thing and the very-good-friends-ness?
CAITLIN: There was a leaping hug that was reminiscent of Yuri on Ice, but it didn’t have the implication of a kiss. Adam tells his manservant, Tadashi, that he will always be his dog and Tadashi blushes and says “Yes.” So, that’s how that went. It was good. Listen, if you’re looking for something more than subtext, you’re not gonna get it here.
But at the same time, the characters are really well-written. The animation is really gorgeous and dynamic. Yes, Adam is a gay stereotype, and that never really fully goes away, although he does become a friend at the end without assaulting anyone, which is good—well, sexually assaulting. He physically assaults a lot of people along the way.
VRAI: I saw that screenshot! [chuckles]
CAITLIN: He physically assaults a lot of people along the way.
PETER: [crosstalk] It’s literally his style. [chuckles]
VRAI: I can unreservedly say that Sk8 is maybe the most beautiful show airing this season. It’s certainly it and Wonder Egg neck and neck.
CAITLIN: Oh, it’s gorgeous. And Utsumi… her fingerprints are all over it. I mean, of course, because she’s the director. But you can see a lot of recurring themes and visual elements over from Free!, subtle stuff like she’s got a really strong talent for dynamic camera angles and lighting, and she loves them upper bodies; but also stuff like losing sight of why you’re doing a sport and coming back to it.
Towards the end, there’s bits that are very reminiscent of, if you remember in Free, the sight that no one has seen before. I don’t remember if that’s the exact phrasing, but you’ll remember if you watched Free. So, it’s definitely a very interesting work to look at in comparison to Free as well as standing really strongly on its own merits.
VRAI: I always feel like I am not the target for Utsumi’s work, but I’m always happy to see her out there doing things because she has such talent and such a strong creative vision, so I’m really glad to see that Sk8 has been so popular.
CAITLIN: Yeah! I know I’ve said this many, many times before, but it’s just really nice to see what she has done when she has a lot of creative freedom. And I think that is partially why she is revising so much stuff from Free.
This is just speculation of course, but she’s now at the studio Bones, where she has a lot of creative freedom, where she doesn’t have a strong house style to deal with or producers breathing down her neck about how she’s going to adapt this super-classic manga.
And it’s just her, and you can see the parts of it that are her, that are carrying over from her previous work, and the things that she wants to revisit and do her own way. And I think that’s really awesome to get to see.
VRAI: Yeah, same. Although, seriously, Utsumi, on your next project, I do need you to step up and knock it off with the subtext shit if you’re gonna keep playing around in that space.
CAITLIN: Just let the boys kiss, Utsumi.
CAITLIN: Just let ‘em kiss.
VRAI: All right, let’s rock it on up to the next big title in our Yellow Flags, which is Horimiya. Did it even out on the pacing issues you guys were mentioning last time at all?
CAITLIN: Not really.
PETER: [crosstalk] No.
VRAI: Oh, I’m sorry.
PETER: And this feels really mean, but at the end I felt like I was Dr. Manhattan on Mars, just tired of being wrapped up in all of the subplots of the side characters’ lives. I wished some of that time might have been devoted to actually going into Miyamura’s family situation that they kept bringing up but never getting into. That’s what I was really waiting on, and the series never reached it.
CAITLIN: There’s not a whole lot of that in the manga either.
PETER: Okay. Well, they sure teased it a lot.
CAITLIN: Well, what do you think they were teasing? That his family was crappy?
PETER: Maybe. There’s one scene where Hori literally says, “When am I gonna meet your family?” [chuckles] And he doesn’t answer her, or I think they just cut to a different scene, and it’s sort of implied that they left the thing hanging. I don’t know, that seemed like the scene was directed toward telling us that they would bring it up later.
CAITLIN: As a manga reader, I can’t escape seeing the anime through the lens of someone who has read the manga, for better or for worse. I can see what’s missing, but I also know what gaps have been filled in.
There’s not a whole lot in the manga about Miyamura’s family. He has to work in the shop sometimes to help out. His parents don’t really seem to care about him piercing except that he bleeds everywhere and it’s a pain in the butt to clean, because you don’t want to get bloodstains out of a pillow. And he looks just like his mom. But I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Hori interacting with his family.
PETER: All right, well, if they don’t get into it… Either way, I was having trouble with those side plots near the end. But it ended sweetly. I actually thought the ending kinda reminded me of Wonder Egg because he has a conversation with his self if he hadn’t made friends, and I was like, “Oh, same.”
CAITLIN: It has that same sort of graduation motif, because Wonder Egg uses that graduation song. And the last episode of Horimiya, which… the manga of that is not actually out in the U.S. yet, so that was new material for me, which was really interesting.
PETER: Okay, passed it.
CAITLIN: My big issue with the ending—er, not the ending… kinda the ending—was a couple things. A, the stuff that they cut out, the moments of Hori and Miyamura being a nice couple together, made Hori look terrible.
The parts that they covered, they were in the manga. Things of it were not a good look. But if you’re taking away all of the moments where they’re sitting under a kotatsu together snuggling and eating oranges together and then Miyamura licks all the juice off her fingers, it feels like she is forcing him to engage in sexual roleplay all the time that he’s not comfortable with.
The biphobia is a bad look. Obviously, not okay with that. But in the manga, in the context of everything else, it seems like she’s a teenager being an idiot. So, I didn’t really like how the anime cut around that. I wish they had slowed down the pace.
VRAI: Yeah, with romcoms like this that are very slice-of-life, a lot of that time to breathe in nuance of the characters feels really important, and it doesn’t always… I’m thinking of Paradise Kiss is what I’m doing. I’m thinking of the ending of Paradise Kiss, the anime.
CAITLIN: I’ve complained that the manga’s been kinda spinning its wheels for a few volumes, ever since the proposal scene, which I don’t like because… y’all, don’t marry your high school sweethearts. Well, maybe marry your high school sweethearts, but think very carefully about it. Don’t assume that the first person you have sex with is the one you’re gonna be with for the rest of your life. [chuckles]
CAITLIN: But I went back and re-read them, and honestly, I kind of enjoyed the slice-of-life parts that were in those volumes where not a lot was progressing, but they were spending time together and you could see the whole picture, as opposed to just the dramatic parts.
VRAI: So, would you call the anime worth watching at all, if a person can’t afford to buy the manga or what have you, or is it a total wash at the end?
CAITLIN: Peter, I’d like to hear what you have to say.
PETER: As a non-manga-reader?
PETER: At the end, I really felt like I was just finishing because I was just so far into it already. I probably would’ve felt better about it if I’d stopped at maybe the six-episode point, personally. I mean, it’s certainly a very well-produced anime.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. But I just felt like all the dodging around to different subplots and the way that the subplots were illustrated out was kind of frustrating to me. I also just don’t think it was for me, personally. I think maybe I’m a bad person to ask this.
CAITLIN: Yeah, I was thinking that, maybe. “Ah, Peter’s not really a huge romcom person.”
PETER: I like romcoms. It’s just I very distinctly did want more of the primary relationship, so I think if it had less side character content, I would’ve maybe felt good all the way through.
CAITLIN: I would not give it an unqualified recommendation. I would say that if you are particularly sensitive to certain things, then maybe avoid it. But if you can look at teens being messy and think they’ll probably grow out of this…
Like, people were being really harshly critical of Hori about the whole PDA thing, wanting him to yell at her in public. And I’m like, “You guys, teenage couples are disgusting. Do you not remember high school? Because I do. It was gross.”
So, if you are willing to forgive that kind of messiness, then I would say, yeah, go for it. But if you are more sensitized to it, if you really need that whole picture, probably not.
VRAI: What I’m hearing is “Watch Toradora instead.”
CAITLIN: [hesitantly] Mm… Yeah, I could say that.
VRAI: And then maybe read the Horimiya manga.
CAITLIN: Yes! Read the Horimiya manga, absolutely. Love it!
CAITLIN: Also, the opening and the ending are bangers.
VRAI: They’re quite lovely. Peter, you wanted to touch on the ending of Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki, because last time we talked about it, it was kind of trending in a positive direction as a character drama.
PETER: Yeah, and I think I felt continually guilty all season that I’m kinda down on it while Chiaki and Mercedez are really up on it. The ending left off in a strange place for me, where Tomozaki pushes back on this whole program they have of him leveling up, and, I think, for a good reason. He is supposed to date a girl to get experience dating, but he’s very uncomfortable with the idea of dating somebody if he’s not actually interested in them.
So, it comes to this disagreement with him and Aoi over the content of their relationship. And the climax is them kind of agreeing to restructure their relationship or the way that they’re doing this training thing so that he can set boundaries. Of course, he’s not comfortable with most of the things he’s doing because he’s kind of a shut-in and the whole point is to get him out of comfort zone, but there’s stuff that he just doesn’t think is a good thing to do, that he objects to personally, so he says that stuff’s off limits.
My problem with it was the implication—and I think he basically says this—that the way Aoi was doing the same thing is that she was playing life as a game rather than trying to be the best player she could be, which I think made her look a little sociopathic. She’s not thinking about what she wants so much as just being the most perfect representation of what she thinks a functional person is, if that makes sense. She really didn’t have objectives. It was just maxing out all her social stats, basically. And I think he wants to, through their continued interaction, show her that there are ways to set goals in this.
And I feel like that was maybe a bad stopping point for the series, because it came across to me like he’d discovered some sort of inner truth by doing the same thing she had been doing for years, except he did it in a couple weeks. And I imagine maybe the light novels—or I think it was light novels—developed out to give a more fair portrayal of their difference in perspective. But yeah, came off to me a little bit like she just had found a system that worked but she didn’t know why, and it was actually potentially ruining her life, and in the end he was the smart guy who figured it out.
VRAI: Yeah, it sounds like an interesting halfway point for a two-cour series but a weird spot to leave off because there’s not a second season coming as far as I know.
PETER: I doubt it.
VRAI: I know that there were always vibes of it being a sad dude story where the women in it are mostly part of him coming to a realization about himself, and it’s a shame that the adaptation choices for the ending seem to have exacerbated that a little bit.
But, like you said, I know that Chiaki in particular really enjoyed it, so there should a little bit more from her in the recs when those come out. So if you’re interested, maybe give that a read if you folks think that you’d be willing to bear with some of the growing pains of the genre, or maybe check out the light novels. Right?
PETER: I’m glad she recced it so that everybody can have an opportunity to hear what she thinks about it.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, it seems interesting. Maybe not for me.
PETER: Yeah, I don’t think you’d, personally, like it, no.
CAITLIN: I thought about giving it a try.
PETER: It’s not bad. It might’ve been slightly not for me, and it is in an unfortunate genre that’s overburdened with stories that are actually just about shitty guys justifying the way they are.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Rent-A-Girlfriend! [coughs]
PETER: Yeah, so it’s a tough space to work in. I definitely think it was an honest attempt. Just, the leaving-off point and the character of Mimimi in her entirety both really made it hard for me to watch it.
VRAI: Gotcha. It does still sound like it’s basically “If you were disappointed in Rent-A-Girlfriend, this is at least trying to do something sincere with that, even if it did it kind of unevenly.”
CAITLIN: If it were a weaker season—because I did watch a lot of stuff this season—I probably would’ve considered watching Tomozaki, but I couldn’t keep up with all the shows I wanted to watch, as is.
VRAI: Speak of two-cours, next up that folks are watching is So I’m a Spider, So What?, which will be continuing into spring, so we’ll have room to circle back around to it during the spring wrap-up. But Peter, is there anything to add from where it was last time we talked about it?
PETER: Still great for all the same reasons, but now… Have you ever seen that chart of the chronology of Memento?
PETER: Because half of Memento plays backwards at interspersed points.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] I mean, I’ve seen Memento.
CAITLIN: I’ve seen Memento.
PETER: Okay. There’s a chart that shows the chronology of the movie, because half of it is moving backward and the other half is moving forward and then they intersect in the middle. It’s a cool chart. I like the chart. [chuckles]
Anyway, the reason I mentioned the chart was because it turns out there’s a lot of displaced time going on in the story, and it’s moving into this bigger metaplot. So, I would really like a chart for the exact points in time certain events took place that we assumed were happening simultaneously.
VRAI: Someone on Reddit has doubtlessly done that.
PETER: Yeah, yeah, maybe I should go to the subreddit. Also, the new OP and ED just dropped and they’re really great. Aoi Yuuki did another ED, completely different musical genre, nailed it.
CAITLIN: Okay, but the one it was had, like, every musical genre in it.
PETER: Yeah. This one’s… The guitars definitely sound like they got the guys from DragonForce to do the song. It’s good. I’ll link you later. We’ll put it in the show notes or something. It’s good.
CAITLIN: Mm, power chords.
VRAI: So, if you liked what Spider was doing before, it’s still doing that but more and at higher volume.
PETER: But now with very interesting metaplot and implications for all the things that Kumoko has been doing.
VRAI: Nice. I keep meaning to pick that one up. I just… God, there’s so much anime. There’s so much anime. I, in fact, just admitted to myself that I dropped Skate-Leading Stars and was never going to come back to it. Caitlin, it says you’re behind. Did you also drop it, or are you going to catch up?
CAITLIN: I don’t know, man. It depends on how much I can get done with reviews in the next few weeks before I go back to work full time. I haven’t watched it since we last talked about it.
VRAI: All right. We’ll move on from it, then.
CAITLIN: Here’s the problem. Here’s the problem: I just watched Backflip!!, which, with its uninterrupted four-minute rhythmic gymnastics scene, really made me think a lot about how Skate-Leading Stars barely shows any skating. You’re lucky if you get a minute of skating in a given episode.
VRAI: Well, and also there was that quote that went around on Twitter where I think it was the director who basically admitted that they were told to pitch a skating show, which is just embarrassing.
PETER: Oh, is that the one where he’s like, “Somebody told me to do it, and that’s the origin story.” [chuckles] And they’re like, “Yeah, you should do a skating anime.”
CAITLIN: I mean, to be fair, that’s how it is for a lot of anime.
VRAI: Yeah, that’s true. It’s just once again coming back around to the fact that this is the first figure skating anime after Yuri on Ice, and it wasn’t good.
PETER: A tough act to follow.
CAITLIN: In fairness, it is very rare for a case like Yuri on Ice or Sk8 the Infinity, where a director’s like, “I have this idea that I want to make, and now I’m shopping it around to studios.” Most anime, even original ones, are designed by committee. I’m not saying they’re not good or interesting, but you will have a production committee approaching directors, being like, “We have this concept, and we want you to direct it.” I’m pretty sure that’s the majority of anime that’s made, including original series.
VRAI: Oh yes. Oh yes. Yes, that or Stars Align.
VRAI: [sadly] I just want the rest of Stars Align.
CAITLIN: [imitates sobbing]
VRAI: Okay, but—
CAITLIN: We suffer in this together, Vrai.
VRAI: Yeah. So, we’ll move on from poor Skate-Leading Stars, which might be perfectly nice. If you watched all of it, please do tell us in the comments. Back Arrow is still Back Arrow. There’s not really a lot to add from where we left it in the midseason, so check back there. It will be—
CAITLIN: Ah, so good! Love it.
VRAI: Uh-huh! Fun time!
CAITLIN: Fun, fun time.
VRAI: It’s also going to be two cours, so we will loop back around to it at the end of spring, which brings us—
CAITLIN: I just have one thing I want to say about it.
CAITLIN: Seki Tomokazu’s character.
VRAI: Doctor man?
CAITLIN: Yeah, well, he’s supposedly a doctor, but he looked at a big hang glider and said, “Oh no, a bird is attacking!” and then shot it down. And as a result, the princess has a split personality. Like, what? What? [chuckles] What? They consider him a doctor, but apparently, he’s not very intelligent. No one in this show is very intelligent except for Shu Bi.
VRAI: It is a very Anime show. Bless.
CAITLIN: I love it, though.
VRAI: It’s fun. I am having a very good time with it.
In less good times, if your Slack comments are anything to go by, we have Kemono Jihen.
CAITLIN: Oh man. Oh boy. Oh, boy.
CAITLIN: Oh, boy.
PETER: Every time we learn about somebody’s backstory, it’s just like, “Man, I wish I’d never learned that.”
CAITLIN: Yeah. Yeah.
VRAI: It’s not good, you say?
PETER: [crosstalk] Yeah.
CAITLIN: Nope. I do want to say, it is in many ways a very compelling series. It’s beautiful. Also has an opening that slaps. Lots of good openings this season. The writing is interesting and compelling, and yokai stuff is always a good time—except not here, because it hates women. Oh boy, does it hate women.
PETER: Yeah, nothing really ever good happens when a female character is involved, does it?
CAITLIN: No. I think every adult female character except for Shiki’s mom is a villain. They are mostly jealous, catty bitches who are backstabbers. Shiki’s little sister Aya…z not good times there.
VRAI: The hotpants and tube top are very upsetting to see.
CAITLIN: Do not do that!
PETER: [crosstalk] Like, eight-year-old.
CAITLIN: And just that one screenshot when she first comes out wearing it, she’s got her hair tied back and she’s popping her hip with her hands on her hips. I’m like, “Oh no! Baby, no! Don’t do that!” Yeah, she straight-up looks like she’s dressed for sex work. It’s very unfortunate.
Shiki’s mom’s whole backstory… Sorry, I’m jumping around on topic. With Aya, I get that she was dressed like this little doll for her life up until now and made to wear frilly dresses and treated like a convenient tool, but she went too far in the other direction. And if she were not dressed like that and it didn’t have that weird, awkward subplot with her hitting on Kabane, she would be pretty cool. She is a very gifted young child. She’s out there solving problems.
But oh man! Oh, the bad things are bad! And you get Akira’s whole backstory. That’s no good.
PETER: No, it’s gross.
CAITLIN: Two backstories in a row that involve rape.
VRAI: Is Akira the smol femboy? Am I remembering that right?
VRAI: Oh no.
CAITLIN: Here, I’ll break it down. Trigger warning, everyone. Fast-forward a few minutes if you do not want to hear about this, because it’s really rough.
VRAI: Peter, just put the timestamps for this in the show notes.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Yes.
VRAI: Thank you.
CAITLIN: So, Akira has a twin brother, Yui. They are both from the village of Yuki-Onna. And the thing with Yuki-Onna is they have male children called yuki-onoko every hundred years.
And the yuki-onoko are treated like… They are spoiled. The whole village life revolves around them because when they hit puberty… Literally, they refer to Akira having a wet dream, and that was an “Oh no” moment. They are treated as breeding studs for the whole village to try to create the next yuki-onoko. So, you have this whole society of women where everything revolves around creating a male child and then fucking that male child. So that’s bad enough.
VRAI: That’s upsetting!
CAITLIN: Yeah! Real dark there. But then also, on top of that, once again, this society of women… And it’s tradition for them to cover their faces so that they don’t have a hierarchy based on beauty.
PETER: They don’t be competin’.
CAITLIN: Yeah, so they won’t be competing. Which doesn’t really make sense if it’s a society of women.
VRAI: A society of women where I assume that this manga has not conceived of lesbianism.
CAITLIN: It certainly didn’t come up in the anime. Because judging women’s ability based on their appearance is a patriarchal construct. But in this society of women where they all cover their faces, they are still competing. There’s a scene where one of them corners Yui and is like, “Did you see this one’s face under her mask?” Then she lifts up her mask, and she’s like, “Is she more beautiful than me?”
VRAI: Damn, this show hates women so much!
CAITLIN: It really does! Like I was saying before I went back to Aya, Shiki’s mom… her entire backstory is that she got systematically raped by yokai every single day to try to create something that can create this golden web. There were manacles, there was blood everywhere, there were surgical instruments… It’s a bad time for women there.
The last couple episodes, I was like, okay, I have been growing increasingly uncomfortable but still overall liking the show because, like I said, it has an interesting story. But now it has reached a level of misogyny I cannot deal with anymore. It’s too much.
VRAI: That’s rough.
CAITLIN: Very rough.
VRAI: So that’s a “no” on recommending this one.
PETER: Yeah, no.
CAITLIN: Don’t even start. Don’t even start.
VRAI: All right.
CAITLIN: Still a banger opening.
PETER: [chuckles] Watch the OP and then quit it? Yeah.
CAITLIN: Just watch that on YouTube and don’t watch the show.
VRAI: Yeah, Kemono Jihen is— Oh no, it’s Funimation. I was going to say Peter probably put the opening on YouTube, but no.
PETER: I’m sorry.
CAITLIN: No, this was a season where everything was Funimation, almost.
VRAI: Right. Yeah, yeah. In better news, Heaven’s Design Team is still soothing and wonderful, and everyone should watch it.
CAITLIN: [sighs appreciatively] Yep.
PETER: Yeah. I have nothing to say about it. It’s just good. I wish I could say something, but it’s just good.
CAITLIN: Nothing really to add there. It’s just nice.
VRAI: Yeah. That’s the nature of a nice edutainment show. We talked about how it was nice last time, and it’s still nice.
PETER: Got a laugh, still nice.
CAITLIN: If they dubbed it, you could show it in science class as a substitute teacher.
VRAI: You could also probably show Cells at Work! Code Black in a science class, but you shouldn’t, maybe.
CAITLIN: Probably not.
VRAI: This show was basically done when we did the midseason because of the weird scheduling where it ended early. There were only three episodes left, but it was mostly good except for the ending, the little bullshit epilogue.
PETER: Yeah, copout!
VRAI: It’s so clearly because, as near as I can tell, the anime basically adapts the first two volumes of the manga plus a couple of things it pulled over from volume 3. And you can just tell that the story basically naturally wrapped up in those two volumes and then they were like, “Shit! We need to sell more copies!” because it’s ultimately ten volumes long. God, I don’t know how.
PETER: Is it longer than the original? Geez.
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, because the original isn’t technically over. It’s just on some kind of weird perma-hiatus, I think. It’s still got the same kind of weird tonal issues that we talked about last time, because of the source material, but it gives me the feels, this show.
PETER: Because it’s about how overwork kills you? [laughs]
VRAI: Yes! And it was animated by Liden Films, which did four simultaneous series this season.
PETER: Oh wow. [laughs] Maybe they were field-testing the principle, making sure the anime was accurate.
CAITLIN: I think they might have hit their breaking point, because they also animated Farewell, My Dear Cramer.
VRAI: Code Black looked nice all the way through basically, and I feel like it’s because all the animators were feeling it.
PETER: Mm, yeah, they really wanted this one to be the one that looked good because it was about them.
VRAI: Uh-huh. Yeah. Yeah, that’s basically it. I’ll have a rec for it. Do you have anything else to add about it, Peter?
PETER: No, I just concur about the ending. I think it either should have ended exactly how it ended or gone full End of Eva… Well, not exactly how it ended. It should have ended how it at first ended and then not done the copout because that’s lazy. But yeah, that’s the last five minutes of the last episode, so whatever. Otherwise, good.
VRAI: It’s not even that. It’s literally a 30-second stinger. It’s so pointless.
PETER: Oh, it was post-credits, too, wasn’t it?
VRAI: Yeah, it was!
PETER: Oh my God, I wish I’d just not noticed and clicked off at the end credits. Oh well.
VRAI: That’s a good suggestion for people at home.
PETER: Yeah. Watch the end credits of last episode, then immediately hit stop, close the window, and enjoy your memory of the anime.
PETER: Pro strats.
VRAI: Yes. All right, last three of [the] top of the premiere chart before we get into sequels. We all dropped Volley Boys.
VRAI: Well, it seems like it ended— I actually popped back in long enough to— There’s a quote, “It seems like it ended.” [laughs]
PETER: Yeah, I was like, it probably ended. [laughs] I would assume so.
VRAI: I popped in to check in on the last episode. It seems to be continuing about where it was when I left off, where they care a lot about volleyball and…
CAITLIN: And each other.
VRAI: Yeah. They’re gonna go to the finals.
CAITLIN: Good for them.
VRAI: End of show.
PETER: [crosstalk] Regionals!
VRAI: Excuse me. Wonder Egg.
CAITLIN: Oh b— [sighs]
VRAI: I still—
CAITLIN: Still gonna do that extra…
VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, so the thing with Wonder Egg, in case you haven’t heard, is that because the pandemic completely wrecked the show’s production schedule, there’s actually going to be a special bonus finale episode in June, so the show’s not technically over.
And also, I fully intend to put together a season retrospective just for Wegg, because it needs it. But I don’t know if y’all want to hit a couple of points while we’re here.
CAITLIN: Ooh boy!
PETER: Wow. What do you even…?
PETER: I think the Frill episode was a mistake and should not exist.
CAITLIN: It felt very weird. All of a sudden, I did not know what they were doing. The themes that had seemed fairly clear up until that point suddenly became very fuzzy and very hazy, and I wasn’t sure what they were trying to say.
PETER: Mm-hm. Yeah, basically after that episode, I had lost faith that the director had some kind of master plan. [chuckles]
CAITLIN: The next episode, with Ai meeting her alternative self and Sawaki being the Wonder Killer, I feel like it confused a lot of things—
VRAI: [crosstalk] Do we want to spoil that much?
CAITLIN: We’ve been spoiling things up until now.
VRAI: Well, because we didn’t talk about Wonder Egg at all in the midseason, so…
CAITLIN: Okay. Well, all right, um…
VRAI: The last couple episodes really go into sci-fi stuff, hard, with the parallel realities and A.I., and I don’t think it benefits the series.
PETER: No. Hate me a good multiverse.
CAITLIN: Just let the allegorical visual symbolism be allegorical visual symbolism.
VRAI: The magical girls don’t need to be the solution to entropy. They can just be magical girls.
CAITLIN: But I feel like the penultimate episode also really confused what had been a consistent symbolic language up until that point, and I don’t know what it’s trying to say.
PETER: Yeah. It’s like it decided not to be about the suffering, rebellion, and rehabilitation of girls.
CAITLIN: Yeah, and the nature of the Wonder Killers became confused, shall we say.
VRAI: Yeah, it put a specific, concrete cause on this show that’s about “Why do young women commit suicide?” Well, there’s a lot of social reasons. Actually, it turns out it’s this one specific monster.
CAITLIN: Yeah. And the Eros-versus-Thanatos thing is apparently a Freudian thing. Which, we always know that goes great. Freud, great with girls!
CAITLIN: The last place I encountered the Eros-versus-Thanatos thing was in the manga Slasher Maidens, which is by the creator of Akame ga Kill! And the whole deal was that there are these scary mutated monsters that are Thanatos related.
But the main character was a super-duper horny teenage boy, and he was the only one who could— Basically, he was important to countering the monsters—I won’t get into the whole thing—because he was associated with Eros, because he was so horny. And sex is the opposite of violence; Eros is the only thing that can defeat Thanatos.
And I was like, “Hold up. Sex and violence, in an ideal world, would not be linked. In a perfect world, they would be opposites. But in the world that we inhabit, they are deeply linked.” And this guy, who his whole deal is that ever since he was a child, he was flipping up skirts and peeping on girls, has basically been enacting low-level sexual violence for his entire life. And at the end of the first volume, his whole thing is that he realizes one of the monsters is female, and he’s like, “All right! I’m gonna rape you!”
CAITLIN: So, the whole Thanatos-versus-Eros thing does not work for me.
VRAI: Yike. Yeah, is mess. I’m not sorry I watched it. I think that the series’ high points were—
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] No, neither am I.
VRAI: Yeah. I feel like the series’ high points were worth my time. I find it sort of weirdly fascinating to watch the tension that has been documented throughout between the writer and the rest of the production team, between the director stepping in to talk about the sexist comments in episode 4 or the fact of the Momoe being trans stuff being so clearly coded through the visual language, almost apart from the script.
It’s interesting in a way that reminds you— You know, we always say that anime is a collaborative process where a bunch of different people are involved, but it’s rare to see a show like this where you can see those pieces jarring against each other so clearly from the viewer end.
VRAI: This fuckin’ guy, though… That’s what I have to say about that. But we’ll see how the last episode goes. It can’t fix everything. He can’t fix everything!
PETER: I cannot imagine an episode that gives it a satisfying conclusion anymore. I am no longer emotionally invested. I am glad I watched it, but I’m not going to get my hopes up, for sure.
CAITLIN: It’s no Utena.
VRAI: If it wraps things okay for the other girls, because the last episode left them in a bad place, I’ll be—not happy, but that’s fine. That’s as much as I’m hoping for out of it.
PETER: At least the girls are all right.
CAITLIN: Yeah, it’s just really upsetting that we don’t see the violence on the girls until we get to the trans boy, who we do see the corrective rape. [sighs] God, why are we talking about rape so much this fucking episode? Just a downer. Sorry.
VRAI: Yeah. I’ll make sure that there’s a warning on the page for this one. But yeah, I think if you haven’t watched it… [sighs] It’s hard for me to recommend people give it a shot because it’s such a mess, and yet I am glad I watched it, you know?
CAITLIN: It’s not Darling in the Franxx that way. Not glad I watched Darling in the Franxx.
VRAI: No. No. We’ll see y’all in the episode that needs an entire hour to unpack “What the hell is Wegg?”
PETER: See ya in three months. [chuckles]
VRAI: I guess I’m the only one who made it all the way to the end of Otherside Picnic?
VRAI: Oh… It was passable. It was fine. I know Alex really liked it, so they’ve done a write-up for it, which I am glad of. Me, I didn’t hate it, but it’s just a subpar advertisement for the light novels, which I really like.
CAITLIN: Yeah. I’m thinking about reading the novels.
VRAI: They’re a good time. And it’s just rough on all sides, because Liden Films—again, this is one of the other ones they were doing besides Cells at Work!, and so, production-wise, it looks kinda rough. And the directing isn’t very inspired, and psychological cosmic horror is tough to conceptualize visually anyway—you know, all the stuff we talked about last time. So, it ended up being just very kind of meh.
CAITLIN: It was an effective advertisement for the novels, and at the end, isn’t that all any anime is supposed to be?
VRAI: And, unlike with Case Files of Jeweler Richard, the novels are actually licensed and translated, so you can just go get them.
VRAI: Please license Jeweler Richard. Please, I’m dying. That was such a mediocre anime, and the novels look real good.
Hey, look at that, that leaves us a whole ten minutes, almost, to talk about sequels and carryovers.
CAITLIN: All right, well, I didn’t watch any of the sequels and carryovers that I was planning to, so…
VRAI: All right, Peter, we don’t have time to talk about all of these, so pick the ones you’re most interested in talking about.
PETER: I guess Dee would not forgive me if I passed up an opportunity to talk about how Umamusume Season 2 completely kicked ass. Probably one of the better sports anime I’ve ever seen, actually.
I feel like the ending kinda copped out, but knowing that the story was loosely based around what happened to the horse Tokai Teio, [chuckles] I can forgive the ending for being a shining, optimistic ending where it had gone on a very realistic tack before that. Well, starting out in realism and then going into super despair and then reversing direction. That was strange.
VRAI: It is based on a true story, isn’t it, the super-hopeful ending?
PETER: Kinda. I think Tokai Teio… It couldn’t have been a leg break, but I think that’s the end for a horse, but something about Tokai Teio had to retire for a year, and then for some reason they brought it back for a last race and the horse won the race, which is what happened.
CAITLIN: Oh, that’s nice.
PETER: So, Tokai Teio—
CAITLIN: You don’t get a lot of happy endings in horse racing.
PETER: Yeah. Except Umamusume, I guess. And then it has a lot of wrap-up around some of the surrounding plots.
I still think Rice Shower’s subplot was perfect as it was, because it didn’t really pull its punches. It was about how because of the people she happened to beat in her races, she got this persona as a heel who always ruined… like, whenever somebody was going to get a Triple Crown, or she stopped them from reigning undefeated in their first year or something like that. So, because of some unlucky victories, everybody just framed her as the villain, and that’s not what she wanted.
And there was no easy answer. She wanted to give up racing; her friends convinced her to get to racing because that’s what she loved; she won the race, and everybody booed her. I think it ended with the fact that it was obvious all of the other girls still respected her, and they were supportive of her. So, even though the audience didn’t like her, she still was in a supportive environment.
VRAI: The life of a heel is tough.
PETER: Also, I discovered Pakatube, which is Golden Ship’s YouTube channel, and it slaps. It’s great. So, yeah, good all around. I wish I could play the phone game. I hope it comes to the U.S.
VRAI: Re:Zero still doing Re:Zero?
PETER: Yes. It seems like it was 20 episodes of lead-up to the last four episodes, which were completely crazy. Got a lot of catharsis. The second half was almost entirely focused on Emelia’s backstory and character development, which was very nice. It had some romantic development between Subaru and Emelia, which I actually didn’t like. I really did not like the way that it led up to the kiss scene, but overall, I think their relationship has been good.
CAITLIN: All right, Peter, I have a question.
CAITLIN: You know my thoughts and feelings about the first season of Re:Zero. It’s one of the first podcasts we did together. Should I watch season 2?
PETER: [chuckles] I feel like you’d just hate it, because you didn’t like anything about Re:Zero, right?
CAITLIN: I have complicated feelings about Re:Zero.
PETER: All right, maybe I’d say watch up to… I think it’s the fourth or fifth episode where Subaru has to complete this trial which involves exploring the ghosts of your past or something. If you still are absolutely a negative on him, then I don’t think anything can save you. [chuckles] You should just quit the series while you’re ahead at that point.
CAITLIN: Okay. I’ll take that under advisement.
PETER: Finish the flashback and see how you feel about Subaru after that.
CAITLIN: I mean, I know that they’re really into mayonnaise, and that’s disgusting.
PETER: Were his parents into mayonnaise?
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Oh yeah.
PETER: I know his mother is afraid of small round food, so she hates peas. [chuckles] I remember that.
CAITLIN: See, I’m starting to understand why Subaru is like that.
PETER: Yeah. Maybe they hid the peas in the mayonnaise so that she could eat it or something.
CAITLIN: Oh no! Oh no!
PETER: [crosstalk] Or something like that. I don’t remember how the scene went. His parents are great, though.
CAITLIN: [crosstalk] Don’t like! Don’t like! Oh, no…
PETER: That’s the reason why I would recommend watching that episode. He has great parents.
CAITLIN: You broke me; I’m broke now.
PETER: I don’t think it was mayonnaise, but it’s possible. It was like half a year ago now.
VRAI: Everybody knows that Promised Neverland Season 2 was a massive disappointment.
PETER: I want to say I actually didn’t mind, because you could do a Goldy Pond movie and it’d probably be pretty lit, but I thought the rest of the manga was pretty bad and undid all the cool things that the first story arc had done. So, ending it in a single season is actually kind of a mercy in my mind.
VRAI: Please tweet your hot takes about The Promised Neverland to @PeterFobian—
PETER: Come at me.
VRAI: —and not at me.
PETER: I feel I’ve just been saying it’s bad all season on Twitter, so you could find me pretty easy. @PeterFobian. Search with “The Promised Neverland” or “TPN” and you’ll get all my hot takes.
VRAI: Oh my God.
Jujutsu Kaisen still sakuga?
PETER: Oh, hell yeah. The final fight had Nobara being a complete badass. It was really good. I think the anime did a really good job of showing me strengths that I didn’t even know the manga had, and that is, I think, the most you could hope out of an anime. So, good adaptation.
VRAI: [muttering quietly] Skip Dr. Stone…
CAITLIN: Yeah. That one I am planning on watching.
PETER: Oh, you’re gonna love the final episode.
VRAI: You want to take a minute to shout out the fact that Reincarnated as a Slime is doing genocides now?
PETER: I guess. Yeah, yeah. So, Rimuru kills 10,000 people. [laughs] Half of whom had surrendered to him already. He sucks all their souls out so that he can reincarnate his big-titty secretary.
I feel like the series maybe wanted me to believe that the enemy army was bad, except that it had gone to the trouble of explaining how they had set up this thing to make it look like Tempest had attacked first, so the people were responding to Tempest creating a first aggression. So the soldiers probably didn’t know better, and all of them got murdered and turned into soldiers to pour into Shion’s mouth and bring her back.
CAITLIN: Cool war crimes, bro.
PETER: Yeah, yeah. Although I really hate that Slime Diaries is extremely cute, and l love it. [chuckles] It’s just a bunch of skits with all the side characters, which are really fun. But it happened right after the last season ended with war crimes, so I don’t know how to feel about this. It kind of reminds me of Emiya Family in that regard, where I hate everybody, but the show itself, in its self-contained story, is very cute and funny.
CAITLIN: Aw, Emiya Family’s nice.
VRAI: All right. I will take a brief moment to say that if you haven’t watched it yet and you are in any way a fan of iyashikei-type shows or hobby-type shows, please, please give Laid-Back Camp a watch.
PETER: The ultimate.
VRAI: It is truly the epitome of the genre, I say with zero hyperbole. It’s just extremely good at being good edutainment about its hobby; having extremely soothing vibes with this beautiful scenery; and having girls who are cute and archetypal, but also feel very grounded and real, a lot of which comes back to stuff like the text messages they send each other, which are kind of playful and feel like very realistic dialogue.
And season 2 did a lot of neat stuff about the girls spending time on their own and how it is cool and good actually to do things and have adventures by yourself, in addition to doing stuff with friends, and that’s not—
CAITLIN: Yeah, that’s nice, because I feel like a lot of anime is like, “Well, if you’re gonna do this thing, you should do it… with your friends. Because it’s meaningless without your friends.”
VRAI: Uh-huh. Yeah.
CAITLIN: And it’s like, nah, man, it’s good to be able to enjoy hobbies on your own.
VRAI: Mm-hm. So, yeah, Laid-Back Camp is really, really good, and I can’t wait for the movie, and I’m so mad that there’s not a Blu-ray or a dub.
And just as a last thing, With a Dog AND a Cat, Every Day Is Fun is a one-minute short series, and it wrapped up this season, and it was incredibly soothing to my heart. If you enjoy funny gags about cats and dogs, it’s a good time and it will take you less than half an hour to watch the entire series.
PETER: I’ve heard good things. I should give it a half-hour. [chuckles]
VRAI: Yep. A whole half-hour of time.
PETER: I think it deserves a half-hour.
CAITLIN: Yeah, I should give it a look.
VRAI: Also, apparently, they’ve licensed the manga, which is nice.
PETER: Hell yeah.
VRAI: Makes me happy.
PETER: Love to see it.
VRAI: We did it! An hour! I’m proud of us.
PETER: Oh yeah. Nailed it.
VRAI: Yay. All right. Well, thank you for joining us, AniFam.
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Thank you so much, AniFam, and oh my God, it’s already spring, so we’ll see you there. [chuckles]
CAITLIN: Get your vaccines.
VRAI: Get your vaccines!
PETER: Get your Fauci ouchie.
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